At the first class, we sat at a round table and introduced ourselves to one another. Then I asked, "What stories do you want to tell?" I nodded to the woman on my left to begin. She told of leading a double life; nursing by day, drinking by night, sitting in the pew like a holy person on Sundays. She continued this hypocritical existence until one night she was stopped by police and her car impounded. Fearful of losing her job, the following Sunday she knelt alone in the church sanctuary and begged God to free her from alcohol. In one holy moment, the need for alcohol left her and she hasn't had a drink since. That's only part of her story. The bulk is about what drove her to alcohol in the first place. Her story made us all teary.
Tears continued as my students told of childhood sufferings, sexual abuse, addictions and abandonment. Profound sadness for them kept me awake that night.
I instructed them to choose one experience and begin writing about it. The following week, they took turns reading. That's when I learned that each had had a transforming experience, a moment in time when God had swooped into their lives and rescued them.
This transforming moment is the nugget of their God stories.
My students are writing their stories and I hope to move them all to the publishing stage. With God's grace this will happen. People need to read their stories. Readers' hearts will be moved as mine is being moved. If you saw them, you wouldn't believe where they've come from. You might gape as I almost did when one by one they read their work.
The Bible tells a story of Jesus healing a man of mental illness. Afterwards, the man wanted to travel with Jesus but Jesus told him to go home and tell his family and everyone he knew about the miracle he'd experienced. (Read this story in Mark 5)
That's what my evening class is doing through writing their stories - telling about the new life Jesus has given them.
What story is God writing in your life? Is it a story of finding daily strength to face difficult circumstances? Whatever it is, don't let anything diminish the power of your personal story.
God is writing a story in each life. A story of Grace. Grace overlooks our faults, takes pity on our sufferings, reaches into the darkness and rescues us. Grace hugs the unhuggable. Grace sees the inside and doesn't judge the outside. Each of our small stories has a special place in His big story. Each one is important.
Even if you consider yourself a poor writer, take the time to sit down and write out what God has done for you.
Then pass your story on . . .
One of my students has been published already. Here's a link to Shari James's story.
Rose McCormick Brandon is an award-winning writer who specializes in personal experience, faith, life stories and the British Home Child Immigration period of Canadian history. Rose is married to Doug, an investment consultant, with whom she also co-authors articles on finances. Visit her blogs: The Promise of Home and Listening to My Hair Grow. Contact address: rosembrandon